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What’s an RV? Wash. County to Issue New Ruling

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

What’s the difference between a recreational vehicle and permanent residence? Residents of the Vista del Lago RV Park in Manson, Wash., are awaiting the answer to that question with a little trepidation these days.

The Wenatchee World reported that officers of the Vista del Lago Homeowners Association recently walked through the 80-lot park wondering what a Chelan County code enforcer would find. A Chelan County hearings examiner recently ruled that permanent homes are not allowed in a park approved for RVs.

“We’re hoping no homes will have to be moved, but we’re in limbo right now waiting for the county to come down,” said Dave Sneesby, president of the group.

Chelan County commissioners have been after residents of the RV park for more than a decade to comply with dozens of building code infractions as structures have become increasingly permanent-looking. Commissioners allowed after-the-fact permits to be paid in previous inspections of the park. But a recent ruling by Chelan County Hearing Examiner Andrew Kottkamp came down harder, saying that residences defined as permanent rather than temporary would have to be removed. The homeowners association did not appeal the ruling.

Most residents do come and go, but many of the homes on the lots are hardly mobile. The lots were originally put up for lease, but were later put up for sale. All are now privately owned. The original developer, Eastland Corp., owned by Dave and Kathleen Jewell, is no longer involved.

“Everyone here did what they did in good faith according to the rules at the time,” said Bev Eickhoff, a retired teacher and the association’s secretary.

Brian Webber, another retired teacher from Everett, bought the trailer on lot 33 just last year. He thinks the trailer will conform to code, but it might have to be moved, along with its massive deck, because it was placed too close to the next lot.

“Obviously, you don’t buy a place thinking you’re going to have to move your whole home,” he said.

The Wenatchee World reported that Chelan County Commissioner Doug England said inspectors have already drawn up a rough map of the park but will next go through and inspect it lot by lot to determine what changes have to be made. That should happen soon, he said. With paved roads, concrete driveways and attractive landscaping, Vista del Lago could be a model of recreational home living. The park has a broad mix of Airstreams, fifth-wheel trailers, motorhomes and park model trailers.

Brandon King, the homeowners association’s vice president, parked his 40-foot Keystone trailer with twin tip-outs there a couple years ago and comes to Manson every chance he can. The Everett man removed the wheels and enclosed the bottom of the trailer with cement blocks last year as a cosmetic improvement.

“I don’t think the county wants to get rid of anything. We just have to give them time to work things out,” said King.

“Our goal is to preserve what we have here now and move forward,” Sneesby added.

That may not be possible for all.

Many of the 80 lots are filled with abodes that look much less like trailers. Some are double-wide mobile homes placed on concrete footings. Many have large decks and carports that reach out to the edges of the 40-by-60-foot lots. Others have tool sheds, closed-in porches and add-on rooms. Sneesby’s trailer and several others are called park models, with dimensions and mobility designed to conform with RV park regulations, but looking much like a shingled, two-story house with dormers.

King, Sneesby and Eickhoff all agreed they have a good thing going at the park. The affordable lots offer a view of Lake Chelan, next to a city park and are within walking distance of downtown Manson. No one wants to move, Sneesby said, but the county will have the final say.

“It’s a waiting game now,” he said. “It’s in their hands.”

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